Upper South

May, 2010
Regional Report

Choose Your Planting Weather Wisely

Whether you're transplanting small plants, like tomatoes, peppers, marigolds or petunias, or larger container-grown or balled-and-burlapped trees and shrubs, you'll have the greatest success when planting them into the garden if you choose an afternoon or evening just before rain is predicted. If your schedule prevents this, then try to choose a cloudy day and water well. It also helps to put a cardboard box over small transplants to shade them for a day or two.

Add Compost Under Mulch

Make your garden get better and better each year by spreading an inch or two of compost on flower beds and borders before adding another couple of inches of an organic mulch, such as dark hardwood. Avoid mulches that slowly decompose, like cypress or cedar. Avoid mulches that slowly decompose, like cypress or cedar. These may look good, but they don't improve your soil the way a combination of compost and hardwood mulch will.

Trim Spring-Blooming Shrubs

Clip the spent blossoms of spring-flowering shrubs, including forsythia, spirea, lilac, azalea and rhododendron, fade, as soon as they fade, and trim to shape the plant or control size. If you wait until later in the season to prune, you'll be removing next year's flowers. This is also a good time to remove older stems, giving younger ones room to grow. Remember that many of these shrubs look their best when allowed to grow in a natural shape, with long flowing branches.

Be Patient with Bulb Foliage

Yes, the foliage from spring-flowering bulbs may be floppy and eventually unattractive as it yellows, but it is very important to let the foliage fully mature because it is sending nutrients down into the bulb, making next year's beautiful flowers possible. And definitely don't be tempted to bend clumps of foliage over and secure with rubber bands. This will keep the leaves from doing their best for the bulb and flowers.

Fertilize Roses

After rose bushes have leafed out and the flower buds are beginning to swell is the best time for the first feeding of the year. If yours are already blooming and you haven't fertilized, certainly go ahead and do so. Although there are special fertilizers for roses, you can also use any all-purpose fertilizer. Follow the manufacturer's directions for the amount, then scratch it into the soil and water it in.

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